Top 15 Bodybuilding Poses – Vekhayn

Top 15 Bodybuilding Poses

Bodybuilding is a sport ALL about posing. When you’re walking around normally, people can’t really see the full depth and striations of your big muscles.

That’s why it’s important to pose, to show everybody else how big you are- of course.

Seriously though, posing is the most important thing you can do in a bodybuilding competition. There is NO way you will win if you cannot do the proper poses. You can have ALL the muscles in the world, but it doesn’t matter if the judges can’t see it!

So, here are the Top 15 Bodybuilding Poses- and how to do them.

  • 1 Side Chest
  • 2 Front Lat Spread
  • 3 Rear Lat Spread
  • 4 Front Double Biceps
  • 5 Back Double Biceps
  • 6 Side Triceps
  • 7 Most Muscular
  • 8 Double Straight Arm
  • 9 The Vacuum
  • 10 The Moon
  • 11 The Christmas Tree
  • 12 The Kneel
  • 13 Quad Stomp
  • 14 Abdominal and Thigh
  • 15 Quarter Turn

Side Chest

The side chest is one of the most iconic bodybuilding poses out there.

It shows off your massive chest, shoulders, triceps/biceps, and forearms. This pose does a great job of making every muscle in your body just look MASSIVE- no matter how much muscle you really have. (It also shows your quads and calves- but that’s not the main point of this move)

Your chest will ‘puff’ out, and your arm swells up against your torso, so it makes you look HUGE.

One of the best bodybuilding poses, the side chest.
One of the best bodybuilding poses, the side chest.

This move is just iconic and you’ll see it ALL THE TIME. It’s personally one of my favorites just because it’s a really fun and simple move to do.

How To Perform The Side Chest Bodybuilding Pose

To perform the side chest bodybuilding pose, this is what you need to do:

  • First, face the person you are posing for, then turn about 70-80 degrees left or right.
  • Flex every muscle in your body.
  • Bring the arm facing the person/judge down to your side and bend your arm so it forms a 90 degree angle. (I personally like to tuck my elbow into my rib cage to highlight my shoulder more, but this depends on your personal prefernceS)
  • Grab your forearm with your other hand at a similar angle and pull it in towards your body.
  • Puff your chest out and retract your arms in as you suck your chest in simutaneously.
  • Put on a big smile, flex your traps, keep puffing out your chest, and squeeze those arms.

Front Lat Spread

The front lad spread is one of the most advanced bodybuilding poses out there. It shows your shoulders, arms, forearms, chest, abs, quadriceps, and lats.

This is a critical move because it reveals how big your back is. If you’re able to see your back from the front- even if that sounds backwards- it means your back is HUGE. That means your back muscles are almost ‘growing sideways’- and your whole torso gets bigger.

You can see in the photo below, you can see the back muscles even though you’re looking at this bodybuilder from the front. Look to his rib cage area, and look at that muscle that is extending outwards on the right/left.

Those muscles you see extending next to the rib cage are one of the main focuses of this move. While it does a great job at showing your arms, shoulders, et cetera- judges are really looking for that lat growth and seeing if it is visible.

Front Lad Spread, one of the most advanced bodybuilding poses out there.
Front Lad Spread, one of the most advanced bodybuilding poses out there.

How To Perform The Front Lat Spread Bodybuilding Pose

The front lat spread can be a very tricky bodybuilding pose to master. It took me quite a few days to actually get the hang of it, as learning to ‘activate’ your lats and hold it while posing ends up being quite difficult.

Also, be careful- this move will not work if you do not have a bigger back. If you are still a beginner in bodybuilding and your lats haven’t grown, I’d recommend waiting a few months until those lats start growing before wasting your time on this move. Simply put, you just won’t see your lats if your back isn’t developed enough.

THIS MOVE IS VERY CONFUSING! I RECOMMEND WATCHING THE ATTACHED VIDEO, IT’S A VERY DIFFICULT BODYBUILDING POSE TO UNDERSTAND, SO DO NOT GET FRUSTRATED IF YOU CAN’T DO IT RIGHT AWAY!

Here’s my advice for performing the front lad spread:

  • Stretch out your lats and warm them up.
  • Place your arms in front of you like you’re grabbing a bicep curl barbell, and then pull your arms backwards like you’re performing a barbell row. Your arms should be as far as back as they can be, and your hands will end up basically on the side of your hips.
  • Take your thumbs and press them into your hips and pivot your shoulders/arms forwards while maintaining this thumb placement into your hips.
  • Stretch out and contract your lats out and force them to roll out as your arm pivots infront of you.
  • Then puff your chest up while maintaining this intense lat contraction.
  • Smile 🙂

Rear Lat Spread

The Rear Lat Spread is probably one of the best bodybuilding poses out there- it just shows so much muscle and really highlights your hard work as a bodybuilder. It’s also one of the hardest bodybuilding poses to do.

This pose shows the judges your wide back, the judges will then rate you based on thickness, width, and things like striations.

(Keep in mind that you are also judged on your hamstrings, calves, and glutes on this pose! So be sure to flex those muscles as well!)

Rear Lat Spread, one of the best bodybuilding poses for showing your back.
Rear Lat Spread, one of the best bodybuilding poses for showing your back.

Rear Lat Spreads are one of the most important bodybuilding poses in any competition- and are the true test of a bodybuilder. If a bodybuilder has a severely underdeveloped back- you can see a huge weakness in their training.

The Rear Lat Spread is one of those bodybuilding poses that gives a ‘kick in the behind’ to those amateur bodybuilders skipping their back days.

But, it’s one of my favorite moves to see. It’s crazy to me how much muscle humans can have in their back!

How to Perform the Rear Lat Spread

So, the rear lat spread is very similar to the front lat spread, with two main differences:

  • Some bodybuilders wll choose to NOT puff out their chest, this is based on your body. Some bodybuilder’s lats will look BETTER with the chest puffed out, and some will look WORSE. Look at some pictures and see which one looks better on you.
  • You need to be flexing your calves, hamstrings, and glutes for this one- do not forget that part!

So here’s my guide on how to perform the Rear Lat Spread:

  • Have your back facing the person judging your muscles.
  • Stretch out your lats and warm them up.
  • Place your arms in front of you like you’re grabbing a bicep curl barbell, and then pull your arms backwards like you’re performing a barbell row. Your arms should be as far as back as they can be, and your hands will end up basically on the side of your hips.
  • Take your thumbs and press them into your hips and pivot your shoulders/arms forwards while maintaining this thumb placement into your hips.
  • Stretch out and contract your lats out and force them to roll out as your arm pivots infront of you.
  • Raise up the heels of your feet to flex your calves, and then contract the hamstrings and glutes.
  • Flex your traps and force your back to be constantly under tension to make sure every little striation and every ounce of hard work you’ve put into it can be seen.
  • Focus and hold it- it can be very tough, especially considering it’s such a big muscle, but this is one of the most important bodybuilding poses in a competiton- so hold it!

Front Double Biceps

The front double biceps is one of the fundamentals of bodybuilding poses. But don’t let that worry you- it’s one of the easiest poses to do.

Ever notice how if you’re just walking normally, your arms don’t look that big? The front double biceps fixes this and swells up your arms to their ultimate size. Your biceps and triceps become enlarged and squeeze together, showing your massive gains.

Front Double Biceps, one of the most important and common bodybuilding poses.
Front Double Biceps, one of the most important and common bodybuilding poses.

I personally do this pose all the time, and chances are- you’ve seen it before too.

If you ever workout with me, I’m always ripping this pose in the gym- so be careful to not get too jealous of my INCREDIBLE physique! (just kidding)

How To Perform The Front Double Biceps Bodybuilding Pose

  • Flex your arms, traps, shoulders, forearms, chest, and abs.
  • Raise your arms to your side with your bicep facing upwards. Then, bring this arm up so there is a paralell line with your arms and collarbone.
  • Then, bring your wrist/forearm down towards your bicep and squeeze hard.
  • Bring your abs in, squeeze your chest, and make sure your traps are flexed.
  • (Bonus points if you’re able to flex your lats, if the judges see those lats you will get a good score!)
  • Smile.

Back Double Biceps

The Back Double Biceps is also one of the most important bodybuilding poses out there. It basically combines the front double bicep and rear lat spread move into one.

The goal is to determine your:

  • Back thickness
  • Shoulder thickness
  • Bicep Peaks

This is a move that eliminates many bodybuilders that have skipped weak spots such as side deltoids, rear deltoids, bicep peaks, et cetera.

So be careful on this move, and be sure to flex hard.

I honestly really like this pose, as it highlights and rewards those bodybuilders putting in overtime at the gym to really iron out the imperfections on their physique.

How To Perform The Back Double Biceps Pose

This pose is very similar to the front double biceps pose, but this time you have to be very conscious about your lats, hamstrings, glutes, and calves- something you weren’t incredibly focused on before.

  • Turn so your back is facing the judge/person mirin’ your physique.
  • Start flexing your hamstrings, calves, and glutes.
  • Contract your lats and spread them backwards, while bringing your arms up in the air like you’re reacing for a pull up.
  • Then bring your arms down like you’ve just done a pull up while contracting your lats the whole time.
  • Then raise your arms up so they are a little above parallel to your collarbone, with your bicep facing up and your arms at a 90 degree angle.
  • Flex your shoulders, delts, forearms, and biceps/triceps.
  • Flex your traps and contract every muscle you can.

Side Triceps

The Side Triceps is one of the most famous bodybuilding poses out there. Honestly, it’s one of my favorites because you really do see how much muscle we REALLY have in our arms.

Before you see a bodybuilder do the side triceps move, you really don’t understand how much is really going on in your arms in terms of muscle. You just assume it’s kind of all one lump sum of muscle- but it couldn’t be further from the truth.

This move highlights your incredible shoulder development, triceps, biceps, forearms, traps, and a little bit of your chest too.

(Be careful, as this move also includes the quads and calves, even if it’s not the main focus!)

You can really see how much work somebody has put into bodybuilding when they hit the side triceps pose. Sometimes, you’ll see someone’s shoulders that are the size of your head- and you just sit there in awe.

How To Perform The Side Triceps

Even though it is one of the most famous bodybuilding poses out there, it is super easy to do! But, keep in mind, it’s one of those bodybuilding poses that are “easy to do, hard to master”. Anybody can hit a side triceps move, but to master it does take quite a bit of practice.

  • Flex every muscle in your body
  • Turn your body sideways towards the person judging you.
  • Make sure your hamstrings, quads, and calves are flexed.
  • Additionally, make sure your chest, traps, and abs are flexed.
  • Bring your arm facing the judge straight down to your side, your arm should be on the back of your side.
  • Use your other arm to grab your arm from behind your back to give a bigger stretch.
  • Push out that shoulder, tricep, and smile!

Most Muscular

The Most Muscular is one of the bodybuilding poses only allowed in certain competitions- but it’s still one of the most important poses you can do.

They don’t call it ‘most muscular’ for no reason- the goal of the move is to show as much muscle as you can to the judges.

You literally flex basically every muscle in your body and face the judges. You will look shredded and absolutely massive.

Most Muscular, one of the most common bodybuilding poses.
Most Muscular, one of the most common bodybuilding poses.

This pose is great for those that need a quick confidence boost. Just head over to the mirror, pop this pose real quick- and you’ll be reminded of all of your hard work in the gym so far. I’m telling you, you will look incredible when you do this pose.

How to Perform The Most Muscular Bodybuilding Pose

This one is very straightforward, but there’s also a lot of variations to it, it really depends on what is most comfortable to you and shows the most muscle.

  • Face towards the person judging your physique.
  • Take a step forward, lean in, flex every single muscle in your body.
  • Bring your arms together in the middle like you’re fistbumping yourself and look forward.

So- that’s the gist of it. But I recommend watching this video as it talks about how to make sure you’re engaging every single little muscle in your body to the fullest extent!

Double Straight Arm

The Double Straight Arm is one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s famous bodybuilding poses. And not going to lie, he definitely shows his massive arms when he pulls off this pose.

Arnold Schwarzenegger pulling off a double straight arm, one of the most famous bodybuilding poses.

This pose is so simple but really shows a lot about your physique. Look at how this move simultaneously highlights his massive biceps, triceps, forearms, AND CHEST all at once. And while this is all going on, it is still showing his tight core, legs, and traps.

This pose is just ideal because while it is focusing on the arms and chests- which are some of the more important muscle groups- it’s still reminding the person judging you that the rest of your physique complements it perfectly.

How To Perform The Double Straight Arm

Thankfully, this bodybuilding pose is pretty easy to pull off.

  • Start by flexing every muscle in your body.
  • Turn slightly sideways towards the person judging you.
  • Raise both arms straight infront of you, while maintaining your flex.
  • Lower the arm closer to the judge slightly so they can see your other arm fully.
  • Smile!

The Vacuum

The Vacuum isn’t an exercise that is as common today as it used to be. It used to be one of the fundamental bodybuilding poses in the golden era of bodybuilding, and to many bodybuilders- still essential.

The problem is, most people thought that vacuums brought great ab growth. Many people still believe that they do, but I think a ton of people have moved to other ab exercises that produce more effective results.

But, the vacuum still fits a niche that other ab exercises cannot. Vacuums are known for getting rid of a ‘big gut’ and shrinking the torso.

People always want that lean shredded torso, those small hips with a big chest. It’s the ‘ideal bodybuilder’ look. Vacuums do a great job of working out your diaphragm and upper ab muscles to help keep your gut ‘in’ and keep that incredible ‘carved and shredded’ look that most people aspire for.

At many bodybuilding competitions, judges still look for the vacuum as a good sign of how well the bodybuilder has worked two commonly ignored muscles- the diaphragm and the inner abdominal wall.

A vacuum, one of the golden era bodybuilding poses.
A vacuum, one of the golden era bodybuilding poses.

When you have a perfect vacuum, your whole midsection almost gets ‘swallowed’ into your chest, you get this perfect carving and it shows the judges you have incredibly strong ab and diaphragm muscles- but also highlights your incredibly tapered physique (that “V Shaped shred”).

So, since bodybuilders are still frequently judged on it, it makes your physique tighter, and it is a good nod to the ‘ancients of bodybuilding’- it’s wise for you to add the vacuum to your arsenal.

How To Perform a Vacuum

Vacuums are very hard to do the first time, but they’re easy to pick up once you get the hang of it.

While I can explain it in words, I remember my first time reading how to perform a vacuum and just being lost in it all. I have a video attached if these instructions don’t make sense (and I can’t blame you for being confused at them!).

  • Stand upwards
  • Inhale and suck your stomach in all the way while flexing your muscles.
  • Hold it for the time you’re being judged, and release.

The Moon

The Moon is uh- haha exactly as it sounds. It’s definitely one of the unorthodox bodybuilding poses for sure. You have to ‘moon’ the judges… At some competitions it is banned for being ‘disrespectful’- but it’s an iffy move.

Your glutes and hamstrings are actually a critical part of your physique, and your physique will fall apart without them. So, some bodybuilders will do ‘the moon’ to highlight these features on their body.

How To Perform The ‘Moon’

Haha, this move is pretty simple to perform.

  • Bend over (oh my this sounds weird)
  • Flex your glutes, hamstrings, calves as hard as you can.

The Christmas Tree

The Christmas Tree is actually my favorite of all bodybuilding poses. It’s not as common, but I think it actually highlights such an interesting part of your lats- the “Christmas tree”.

The pose is called that because if you flex your lats a certain way, this tiny ‘Christmas tree’ is revealed in the middle.

I just think this is move is so interesting because MOST people do not know that we have a muscle like that. You really can’t ever see this muscle unless you have seriously shredded and strong lats. But, I think it’s one of the most interesting bodybuilding poses out there- because when you see it you just kind of stare in awe.

How To Perform The Christmas Tree Pose

Truthfully, the Christmas tree pose can really be anything that involves the lats and lower back.

You ideally want to be flexing your lats with an emphasis on the lower back, so think of more of a ‘hip’ activation rather than a chest activation. It’s hard to explain, but you just have to really flex your back and get that lower back growing.

The Kneel

It’s kind of weird that bodybuilders rarely talk about probably one of the most famous bodybuilding poses of all time- the kneel.

There’s not really a standardized name for this pose. What’s interesting is that this pose actually wasn’t like, ‘created by bodybuilders’- it was featured in a lot of cartoons and TV shows that tried to roleplay bodybuilders.

So, this is one of those weird bodybuilding poses that bodybuilders usually have nothing to do with- but most people have seen it in a movie or TV show.

The Kneel with the lats facing the audience, one of the freestyle bodybuilding poses.
The Kneel with the lats facing the audience, one of the freestyle bodybuilding poses.

The kneel is simply a bodybuilder sideways kneeling and showing off a vast majority of their muscles. This pose does a great job of emphasizing everything, including muscles on the side of the leg that aren’t always as visible.

Like I said, this is a weird situation as most actual bodybuilders don’t do this, but it originates from the audience’s perception of bodybuilders. It’s a really weird psychology thing if you think about it.

But, many bodybuilders have actually embraced this ‘interpretation’ of what bodybuilding is like, and perform the pose sometimes at competitions.

How To Perform The Kneel

Since the kneel is more of a ‘freestyle’ pose, there aren’t specific interpretations of it you have to follow.

The general idea is:

  • Get down on one knee.
  • Turn about 45 degrees.
  • Flex every muscle in your body.
  • Raise your arms up in anyway you think your arms look best.
  • Smile!

Now, some people rather show their back and glutes, some people rather show the front. The idea of the movement is that you’re giving the audience a view of the side of your legs and body, and additionally representing your entire body rather than a specific muscle group.

Quad Stomp

The quad stomp is one of the coolest bodybuilding poses the Mr.Olympia competition had EVER seen. In 2009, Jay Cutler did an incredible move that had NEVER been seen before, the quad stomp.

It literally looks like a superhuman mech came in, and used their robotic leg to just destroy the ground under them.

Here’s a video of it for reference:

Basically, the idea is, “hey, I can flex my leg all I want, but the real muscle comes out when that leg is fully extended and pushing into something”.

You ever squat and look at your leg muscles in the mirror? You’ll notice that they’re absolutely massive when you’re actively working out.

Jay Cutler realized this and slammed his foot into the ground, forcing a complete activation of all the muscles in his legs.

Absolutely nutty. This is a move that is still obsessed over in bodybuilding today. You can see the difference in the video when Jay Cutler is just normally flexing VS his new ‘Quad Stomp’.

This is a great pose to get a serious edge over your competition in any way you’re getting judged. This quad stomp will bring out every last muscle in your leg.

How To Perform A Quad Stomp

So, the quad stomp is very straightforward. I’d recommend that you’re stomping into a surface that is ‘soft’ though and won’t hurt you if you do this. So, I’d avoid concrete or anything.

You’re literally going to raise your leg like you’re a mech, and just slam it down while flexing every muscle in your leg. Be careful to not over-extend the knee in this position!

There, you’ve done it- the quad stomp. Now admire your legs.

Abdominal and Thigh

The ‘abdominal and thigh’ is one of the most classic bodybuilding poses out there. You’re virtually required to do this at any tournament you ever compete in.

The abdominal and thigh pose features, well, your abdominals and thighs. While the other poses slightly showcase these muscles, this pose is determined to only feature the abdominals and thighs.

You’re essentially taking out anything that impedes the view of those muscles, and flexing them as hard as you can towards the judges.

Abdominal and Thigh- one of the mandatory bodybuilding poses.
Abdominal and Thigh- one of the mandatory bodybuilding poses.

How To Perform the Abdominal and Thigh

I will say this, it is best that you just watch a YouTube video and understand everything in depth.

This is a straightforward movement that is incredibly difficult to master. While it seems very simple, there is so much tiny things that can push make the needle move in your favor infront of the judges.

Generally: You just have to flex your whole body, face the judges, and get you rarms behind your head- showing your triceps towards them.

But, there is a much steeper learning curve to this one, so I recommend just watching this.

Quarter Turn

The quarter turn is one of those bodybuilding poses that just represents the bodybuilding spirit. It’s almost the ‘poster child’ of bodybuilding poses.

In any bodybuilding advertisement or poster, it’s always got a ton of guys doing the quarter turn.

It really is one of the easiest poses to screw up on, but also succeed at.

You literally, in a sense, do a quarter turn and show the judges how your body looks. It emphasizes the tightness on your abs to your chest, your obliques, your shoulders, and arms.

The quarter turn, one of the most common bodybuilding poses worldwide.

Overall, it really looks for that ‘completeness’ in the physique. If you have any weak points, it’s going to be highlighted in the quarter turn.

How To Perform The Quarter Turn

Conclusion of The Top 15 Bodybuilding Poses

These are the Top 15 Bodybuilding Poses, hopefully this list helped you get a little better understanding of what bodybuilding poses are like- and maybe even have helped you if you’re preparing for a competition!

Let me know what your favorite bodybuilding poses are in the comments below! Thank you for reading!

About the author

Tommy

Vigilant is an author extremely dedicated to his blog. From a hard life of growing up paycheck to paycheck, he somehow took advantage of the opportunity to make himself a stronger person and pushed through to keep on pursuing his career an Emergency Medicine doctor, wrestles, and lifts 2 hours a day all with a full-time job and in college. Learn more about Vigilant and the "mustang gang" here at the About Me section.

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